Sometimes we forget that we all inhabit this Earth together. The Earth is the heart of humanity. Without it the lifeblood that allows humanity to survive would cease to be. People’s reluctance to safeguard our Earth would be more of a surprise if people weren’t so reluctant to care for their own hearts and bodies until they suffer a catastrophic scare.
We put demands on the Earth in the same way we tax our bodies. We treat both as if they owe us instead of realizing we owe both the very lives we lead. Treatment of our bodies and our Earth are so intertwined that when we mistreat one we harm the other. When we treat one better, treating the other better follows naturally.
When I started really looking into how to be healthy, I kept coming back to the same things. Eat well, put fewer chemicals in and on my body, and use fewer chemicals in my life. Little did I realize those same things are necessary to keep the Earth vibrant and productive.
I stumbled into living environmentally friendly by accident. I’d never even considered that anything I did damaged the Earth. Growing up on a farm, I was taught to respect the Earth for all it provided as least in theory. In practice, we used fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides that increased our yields but damaged the Earth and likely our health.
I studied eating healthier including foods grown organically and incorporated them when the budget allowed, but money spoke louder than health in those days. I watched our trips to the doctor increase every year. I wasn’t quite ready to accept our diet affected our health so much. I didn’t want to pay more for food, so I justified to myself that the amount of toxins in our food couldn’t be all that harmful. After all, everyone ate them. That said, I still pushed for us to embrace a more natural diet and worked to eliminate most processed foods.
I also searched for a solution to my sensitivity to cleaning products. Every time I cleaned our home, I got terrible headaches, stomachaches, nausea, and a general fatigue I couldn’t shake. Then I injured my shoulder and couldn’t clean. We hired a cleaning service, but they didn’t clean silver. I went to the bookstore to find a way to clean our five pieces of silver without the need to polish it.
I took a stack of books to a table and read the indexes. I wasn’t having much luck finding what I needed. I opened Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. As I looked for the page on cleaning silver, I kept getting distracted by the other sections in the book. Within minutes the ideas and facts in the book intrigued me. The descriptions of the effects of the chemicals used in cleaning products on a regular basis described my reactions to cleaning completely. I couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t all in my head. Someone else knew about it, too. The chemicals in our cleaning products were poisons! I essentially poisoned myself every time I cleaned my home.
Solutions filled the book. Maybe I could clean my house without feeling ill. I read her comments on particular products, like bathroom cleaners, that affected me most harshly.
The effects on the planet barely penetrated my thoughts even though she discussed them at length. I wanted to feel better. I still didn’t quite understand how my small contribution could change anything for the Earth. My heart quickened as I clutched the book and walked to the cashier.
At home I studied the book. Not only could I clean without getting sick, I could save money. Wow! I liked the sound of that. Still, the planetary impact barely penetrated my thoughts.I made a shopping list. I was skeptical about the effectiveness of the recipes in the book, so I kept all my chemical cleaners handy. The first recipe I used was to clean my silver. It worked but I felt like I’d cheated. It was too easy. I picked a cleaner to make. It smelled nice. I cleaned the kitchen sink. It worked! The sink was clean, smelled nice, and no headache. I tried the recipes one at a time. The ones that applied to my life all worked well.
Within three weeks I noticed a change in both my energy level and the comfort of our home. I no longer felt sick when I cleaned the house. I no longer dreaded cleaning the house. The house smelled citrusy and minty instead of chemical laden ‘” the scent so many of us were raised to equate with cleanliness. No one had ever told me the scent was created by potentially hazardous poisons that build up in the body over time.Using nontoxic cleaning products to improve my health lead me to care more about how other products affected my health. I started reading about the toxins in every day products like shampoo and lotion. As I felt healthier, I began to look beyond myself and care how the same products affected those I loved.
Eventually, I took notice of the fact that while I’d accepted quite a while earlier that the Earth was abused and neglected by her inhabitants, I’d always thought I had no power or responsibility to create change. Perhaps there was a way to improve the Earth’s health by not poisoning her with my selfishness and greed. Every move I took to make myself healthier also improved the Earth’s health. I love that taking care of my family better also works toward making the Earth healthier. If we don’t take care of our bodies, our health suffers. If we don’t take care of our Earth, the Earth’s ability to take care of us suffers. We must make the right choices to help our Earth remain healthy if we wish for it to continue to pump the lifeblood of resources we both need and enjoy.